How to Respond to a Gaslighter – 5 Tips
Gaslighting is a sort of emotional manipulation that causes the target to doubt their perception, emotions, cognition, sanity, and identity.
A gaslighter will use this subtle form of emotional abuse to undermine your reality by twisting the truth and denying facts about your environment, experiences, words, and actions until you no longer can trust your perception of reality.
Gaslighting in Toxic Relationships
Gaslighting is a manipulation strategy often used by covert narcissists to manipulate, control, and gain power over their romantic partners, kids, and other people they regularly interact with.
You can recognize a covert narcissist by their excessive need for admiration, a lack of empathy, and a grandiose sense of self-importance. Covert narcissists believe they are unique and special, so they typically have an exaggerated sense of entitlement.
They often show haughty attitudes and behaviors, taking advantage of people to achieve their own goals. However, a covert narcissist will typically hide their toxic attributes at the beginning of your relationship because they want people to like them.
They often use plausible deniability as a gaslighting strategy to make you doubt your perception of reality and entirely depend on them. If you are in a relationship with a narcissist, you may start questioning everything you know, doubting your perceptions of reality and your sanity at some point.
Gaslighting occurs in toxic romantic relationships, but it can be present in any other type of relationship. Still, you may go for years without realizing you’ve been a victim of gaslighting. Left uncontrolled, gaslighting can have severe consequences for your mental health, self-image, life satisfaction, work productivity, and other relationships.
So, here are some tips on how to respond to a gaslighter.
1) Identify a Gaslighting Pattern in Your Relationship
Your narcissistic partner (parent, friend, or boss) may use gaslighting to manipulate you for months or even years before becoming aware of it. On a surface level, covert narcissists are usually charming, charismatic, and fun.
However, under the surface, you may soon start noticing that they are excessively obsessed with themselves, arrogant, manipulative, and controlling. Their inability to feel empathy for others makes them manipulative and abusive.
So, the narcissist in your life may use gaslighting to minimize your feelings and discredit you by turning other people against you. They will also do anything to turn you against your family and friends. In other words, gaslighting is a strategy narcissist use to create a subtle but constant relationship dynamic where they maintain complete control and power.
Here are some common signs of gaslighting in relationships:
- A gaslighter will tell you apparent lies
- They will trivialize your feelings and accuse you of overreacting
- They will use every opportunity to discredit you
- They will question your memory and deny things that happened
- You constantly feel confused and question everything
- You think everything you do is wrong
- You struggle with self-esteem and confidence issues
- You are often wondering if you are too sensitive
- You always blame yourself when things go wrong
- You constantly apologize for everything
- You are always making excuses for a gaslighter’s behavior
- You have problems making decisions
- You feel isolated and lonely
Understanding what is happening is the first step in breaking the emotional abuse cycle in a toxic relationship.
2) Sort Out the Truth and Stick to Evidence
Once you recognize that gaslighting is happening, you may want to keep records of what was said and done to check the truth for yourself when a gaslighter begins their manipulation.
You can take screenshots of the texts you exchanged with the gaslighter, take photos that document their behavior or record your conversations. Make sure to note the dates and times of these conversations, so you have evidence to get back to once the gaslighter starts twisting and denying the truth.
Collecting evidence that proves the truth can help you feel safe and confident as you will not question yourself.
3) Set Boundaries
There usually no boundaries in toxic relationships. It is most likely that you have problems saying “no” to gaslighter’s request and demands because you don’t want to disappoint them or fear they might leave you.
Learning to say “no” can help you set boundaries and focus on your needs. Setting firm boundaries can help you protect your rights and free yourself from gaslighting. Also, boundaries in a toxic relationship can help preserve your self-esteem and help you feel safe.
4) Make Self-Care a Priority
Taking care of yourself can improve your mood and increase confidence. Stress caused by gaslighting and abuse can affect all aspects of your life and well-being, causing anxiety, depression, and feelings of profound isolation and loneliness.
The following strategies can improve your physical and emotional health and help you cope with challenges:
- Healthy sleep habits
- Regular physical activity
- Mindfulness meditation
- Positive affirmations
- Spending time with family and friends
- Daily gratitude practice
5) Seek Help
When you are experiencing gaslighting, it is essential to seek support from people you trust to help you feel confident in your rationality and judgment.
However, gaslighting can sometimes make it difficult to discern who is trustworthy. If you struggle to decide who you can trust, talking to a therapist is always a good decision.
Professional counseling or psychotherapy can help you navigate your painful experience, work on your feelings, and start rebuilding confidence. Psychotherapy can be a safe environment to gain self-awareness, build strategies for responding to a gaslighter, start practicing self-compassion and feel empowered to engage in healthy relationships.
Gaslighting is often present as a method of abuse in toxic relationships. People with narcissistic traits or narcissistic personality disorder often use gaslighting as a subtle tactic to manipulate, maintain dominance, and gain control in relationships.
The first step in setting yourself free from gaslighting is recognizing it is happening. Strategies such as keeping records of your conversations with a gaslighter, setting boundaries, practicing self-care, and getting support from friends or a professional can help respond to gaslighting and restore your well-being.
Healing from a toxic dynamic takes time, patience and full support. Want to speak more? Book a time at www.chatwithkamini.com.